Are You Rotting Your Bones? – Proverbs 14
Envy. Comparison. Resentment. These words used to flash through my mind when I thought of a close friend (let’s call her Katie), and sometimes, unfortunately, they still do.
It started as an innocent friendship in fifth grade, when she and a few other girls asked me, the new kid, to play four square. But, as our lives sped toward where we are today, jealousy began creeping in, little by little.
In college, as a teenager and then young twenty-something, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. Pick a subject that I should spend my lifetime pursuing? I could barely pick out my outfit before an 8AM class. Katie, on the other hand, knew she wanted to be an elementary school teacher, and had her class schedule mapped out when we were still in high school. Settledness in her life goals was also steady, while mine varied from day to day.
She began being asked out on dates, while I was sitting by the phone, alone. In fact, a lot of guys took interest in her, and she always had a story about a new guy, new date, new breakup. Then, after college, Katie and I got engaged around the same time, and our weddings happened only weeks apart. Bad idea. Many brides are already sensitive while planning their weddings, but having “competition” for my big day? Those were not my finest moments.
That’s when the rivalry (of my own accord) ramped up. I felt jealous of everything Katie “one-upped” me on. She received an offer at a school she had always wanted to work at; I slaved away in a job I despised. Katie’s husband got a job offer from the exact hospital he hoped for; my husband worked at Jimmy John’s, writing music on the side. They bought a house; we lived in an apartment. They got pregnant, and I smiled and cheered, while inwardly weeping—it was something I hoped for, but had not happened. And then, the kicker: I received a text on Easter morning—she’d delivered a beautiful girl. Ever since we were little, she had wanted a girl.
After that, envy began deteriorating the way I thought about Katie. As Proverbs 14 describes:
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. (verse 30, NIV)
I smiled at pictures posted on Facebook, and even “liked” them, but inside, I thought, “Why her? Why not me? Why, why, why?” Finally, mercifully, the Lord prompted me to confess these ugly thoughts to my friend. I called her, apologizing and asking for forgiveness. It was a humbling moment, but one I hold dear. Katie didn’t respond in anger, but rather, compassion. She told me she was so proud that I had the courage to tell her what had been happening in my heart. She told me life isn’t always as easy as it looks. And most importantly, she forgave me.
I still feel that familiar feeling of bitterness rise up every once in a while, but the peace I’ve acquired negates much of the temptation to wallow in jealousy again. The words of Proverbs are true; when my heart and spirit are tranquil, my body feels life. It feels joy, hope, contentment. But when I let resentment take over, it’s as if a noxious weed is choking my heart of satisfaction, turning any flourishing goodness into a pitiful, straggly mess. As you probably know, what goes on in our hearts shows up physically in our lives. The way we love others, our friends, our significant others, our families … the fruit (or weeds) that spring from that are a direct representation of the state of our hearts. I often keep the quote “comparison is the thief of joy” in the back of my mind. It’s so true, isn’t it? I urge you, sisters, don’t let envy or comparison rot your bones. Instead, seek peace, seek gratitude. It will be so much more satisfying than the jealous rants in your mind, I promise.
Christina Vinson spent her childhood devouring books, and she vowed that when she grew up, she would read at the dinner table. After graduating from college, entering the corporate world, and getting married, Christina worked in higher education for a number of years, but decided to take the plunge into the world of freelance writing and hasn’t looked back since. Her days are spent writing for local magazines, creating website content, proofreading, and editing, all from her sunny home office where she spies on her neighbors and thanks God for the privilege of doing what she loves. In her free time, Christina relaxes by cutting cold butter into flour for currant scones, whipping cream for apple dumplings, going for walks, or, of course, wandering through the library. And every once in a while, she and her husband grab their separate books, open them up, and read at the dinner table.